My eyes scanned the crowd of people with great speed and excitement. As the doors of each incoming tram opened, I grew more anxious to see my parents’ faces in person. It had been more than seven months since I said goodbye to them at this very location, the Sacramento California International Airport. I was counting down this moment for months, weeks and now days. Noah and I had come up with our game plan of how we would be sneaky and surprise them. We like to see them first, watch them maneuver through the airport looking for us and then make ourselves visible at just the right moment. We were standing off in a corner. Noah’s back was turned toward the trams. I was hiding behind him in hopes to not be seen. I said, “There they are!” We scooted off around the corner, giggling together, as we walked a few steps and peeked around a wall. We saw my parents riding down the escalator and looking around for us. Noah and I gave it a minute, hopped on the elevator and rode down to the baggage claim. Nothing could wipe the smile off our faces. We briskly walked out an airport door and around the building to avoid being seen. I wonder if anyone else goes to this extreme? Ha! It is fun to always be a kid at heart. Noah and I walked in the main doors by their baggage claim and mom’s beaming smile will forever be embedded in my memory, along with our first embrace. I spotted my father’s adorable smile as he was picking up their luggage and went over to him for a hug that was seven months overdue.
We were all back together again and delighted. There was nothing but smiles and happy conversations all the way to our car, which then continued for the next 10 days of their vacation. With the challenging medical issues I have endured this year, having them here was the best medicine and therapy for me. Our time together was full of celebrations and simple pleasures. I rented a motorcycle for dad and he explored beautiful Northern California and visited Lassen Volcanic National Park. Noah and dad went golfing. We celebrated my 11-year kidney transplant anniversary, mom and dad’s 37th wedding anniversary and dad’s 57th birthday. It was the simple things I treasured the most. Like having mom or dad come with me to physical therapy, enjoying coffee with them in the morning and talking together in person, hanging out at the river, being silly and laughing together, hugging them, hollering for them in the house and getting a response back. The little things that most of us are able to do with our families on a daily basis are the things I miss most.
I still find it hard to believe that Noah and I moved 2,670 miles away from our families from PA to CA. With that distance, we only see each other once or twice a year. When mom and dad are here, it is like they have always been here. Then when they leave, it feels like we did not just see them. It is an unexplainable time warp.
Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love, time is eternity.
-Henry Van Dyke
The days filled with love seemed to blur together and before we knew it, we were standing at that same spot at the Sacramento Airport. A week and a half ago, our hearts were filled with joy and excitement. Now the four of us stood counting the seconds we had left together before they walked back on to that same tram that I once was anxiously awaiting for. The part I dislike the most is the unknown of when I will see them again. We said our goodbyes. Noah and I stood arm in arm and waved to my two beautiful parents who were waving back from the tram that was now pulling away. We all waved to each other until we couldn’t see one another anymore.
As much as moments like this make my heart ache, I am so grateful for the time I have with mom and dad. I don’t know what kind of child I would have been and the woman I would have become if I were perfectly healthy, but I like to think that we would still have the same incredible bond regardless of health. I do believe when you are on death’s doorstep, it makes everything that much clearer and richer in life. If someone would have told my parents 11 years ago at the Ronald McDonald House that everything was going to be ok, that their gravely sick daughter would be healthy again, that she would move to California, marry a spectacular man and we would all see more and live more because of the gift of life, I am guessing we would have found that hard to believe. However, we have been taught that life is miraculous!
Although our family is on the opposite side of the United States from us, they are always close at heart. I hugged my dad last week, a few days before their vacation ended and they headed home to PA, and said, “We don’t have that much time left. “ He replied, “No we don’t, but we have many more times to come.”
“… for those who love, time is eternity.”